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The Charlottesville Redevelopment and Housing Authority will consider tonight a request for qualifications for a development firm to work as a partner in the first phase of a redevelopment plan that has been in the planning stages for many years.
“The Charlottesville community demands that these efforts be successful and recognizes the only way to truly be successful is through the active involvement and leadership of our public housing community,” reads the second paragraph of the request.
In all, CRHA operates 376 residential units at 11 locations throughout Charlottesville. The agency’s Board of Commissioners adopted a master plan to redevelopment in August 2010 but no progress has been made in implementing any of its concepts.
As part of the grant, PHAR, CRHA and the city of Charlottesville hired Enterprise Community Partners to assist in the process. According to a resolution reaffirming a commitment to the work, the idea is “to strengthen the relationship between the three institutions and build trust with public housing residents in preparation for redevelopment of CRHA properties.”
The consideration of the RFQ is a separate item on tonight’s agenda.
“Once selected, the developers will be invited to submit proposals for actual development projects,” said Grant Duffield, executive director of the CRHA. “Developers will, based on guidance provided and their understanding of the project need, present their concepts for development on specific CRHA properties.”
One requirement in the request for qualifications is that redevelopment must conform to both the 2008 Public Housing Residents Bill of Rights as well as PHAR’s recent Positive Vision for Redevelopment.
“We insist that Charlottesville’s public housing residents very much inform, guide, advise and (in some areas) lead CRHA’s low income housing development projects,” the RFQ continues.
If adopted by the CRHA Board of Commissioners, would-be partners have until May 16 to submit questions. The deadline to submit qualifications is May 31.
The first tier of the first phase of development would focus on both vacant land within CRHA’s South First Street community as well as the CRHA’s property at Levy Street.
“The project team also anticipates development activities to take place in the very near future at CRHA’s Crescent Halls and 6th Street communities,” reads the request. These two sites are within the second tier of the first phase.
“The potential exists for mixed-income, mixed-finance affordable housing,” reads the RFQ. “Recognizing that ongoing and future federal [subsidies] for public housing is very much in question, communities that are developed through this effort must, to the maximum extent practicable, demonstrate long term financial viability while continuing to support the goals and intent stated above.”
According to the section on the structure of the partnership, CRHA would enter into a 99-year ground lease. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has slowly been reducing subsidies for public housing agencies across the country.
“A primary goal and intent of redevelopment of CRHA properties, and an overall redevelopment strategy, is to create a long-term income stream for the purpose of sustaining anticipated federal funding cuts,” the section continues. “The actual ownership structure will be determined appropriately in negotiation with all development parties.”
The request states that favored proposals will be those that build housing for families who make less than 40 percent of the area’s annual median income. It also states that rental housing is the primary goal, but “for-sale units, institutional and/or commercial uses may be considered in the total development mix.”
The Levy site consists of 1.1 acres across two parcels of land, one of which currently houses Community Bikes and the Urban Agricultural Collaborative of Charlottesville. The other is a parking lot for city employees.
“The project team envisions that development of the two-parcel site will consist of low-income and mixed-income housing and may include commercial and/or institutional space and uses,” reads the request.
These two locations could be the site of relocation efforts where residents of other CRHA sites could be moved during redevelopment. The request also states that efforts must be made to hire residents to take part in the work.
One issue with the Levy site is potential environmental damage caused by a former gas station that formerly operated there. Another is potential opposition from nearby residents. Several members of the Belmont community spoke out against the concept in at the July 2010 meeting of the CRHA Board.
Phase 2 would possibly consist of Westhaven and the rest of the South First Street site. Under any scenario, the properties would retain a public component.
“CRHA intends to retain ownership of its land assets,” reads a section on the scope of services.
Services requested include site planning, design, engineering, architectural work and obtaining all government approvals including environmental clearance.
The CRHA also distributes 400 housing vouchers, as well as an additional several dozen paid for directly by Charlottesville taxpayers through a $900,000-a-year program approved by Council earlier this year.
Under this program, those who receive vouchers pay 30 percent of their income towards rent and the voucher makes up the difference.
The maximum rents are calculated based on the fair market value for the area’s housing market. That ranges from $752 for a studio apartment to $2,037 for a five bedroom.
“Based on conditions present within the local rental housing market, the CRHA Section 8 Administrative Plan has set the Voucher Payment Standard amount to 110 percent of the HUD published Fair Market Rent,” reads a resolution on the CRHA’s agenda.
That means that the following maximum rents can be charged for units participating in the program: $827 for a studio; $1,129 for a one-bedroom unit; $1,296 for a two-bedroom unit, $1,625 for a three-bedroom unit; $1,949 for a four-bedroom unit; and $2,240 for a five-bedroom unit.
The CRHA will also consider a resolution to authorize Duffield to negotiate with Ting to provide high-speed internet in all units.
The CRHA will also consider a smoke-free policy for all properties as well as a resolution to require its employees to meet certain customer service standards. They will also discuss the agency’s five-year plan.
There will also be a report from Duffield, who will mark two years at the CRHA in May.